Re "An imperfect union," Opinion, May 18
Troy Senik says that the California Teachers Assn. is the state's most powerful union. How does he define powerful? With pay? At an average salary of $68,000, teachers are not the best-paid public employees. Plus, starting salaries for beginning teachers average about $35,000.
And our pensions? Remember, teachers kick in about 8% of each paycheck to the State Teachers Retirement System; their employers contribute another 8%. What public employees do that?
And yes, the CTA spent a lot of money fighting for Proposition 98 to ensure a stable funding source for California's students. It fought against Proposition 227, which eliminated bilingual education. As Senik notes, the CTA mortgaged its own building to fight some of these mean-spirited propositions.
The CTA spends much of its time and money to protect children and public education — because no one else will.
California teachers deserve their salaries: Local housing is expensive, and teachers want to send their children to college too. Most are extremely hardworking.
And why are charters the golden ideal? Our traditional neighborhood school is flourishing while a nearby school is slated to lose its charter.
Still, teachers unions have indeed accumulated too much power. From 2000 to 2011, the National Education Assn. and the American Federation of Teachers gave $297 million in campaign donations.
Individual teachers are often caring and effective. Teachers unions, by contrast, often stifle legislative progress and hamper common-sense approaches to education policy.
This power should be dialed back.
Senik's attack on the CTA is a scathing indictment of power. He condemns the union for demanding funding for schools because too much went to increase teachers' salaries. He lists the failures that the power of the CTA has inflicted on the schools.
Has the union accomplished nothing that would benefit students?
Teachers don't enter their profession after at least five years of college to get rich. They are there to develop good citizens, often working without the collective support of parents, school boards and administrators. They need the power to succeed.
Yes, teachers have a strong union. It came as a result of years of being patted on the head and being told that they should be satisfied with being "professional."
Meanwhile the professionals they educated — doctors, scientists, lawyers, engineers, politicians and pundits — were being monetarily rewarded in their professions. A teacher's average annual salary of $68,000 pales in comparison to these other professionals.
Another thing that the general public may not realize, and that Senik fails to mention, is that California teachers are not entitled to Social Security unless they worked other jobs.